Branding & Web
London 2012 cyclists

A love letter to London 2012

Every piece of identity design to gain significant exposure leads to a familiar pattern of behaviour; some likes, some dislikes, some designers pointing out aesthetic flaws or where the project went wrong, a few (usually awful) attempts at alternatives.

This eruption is all usually spewed forth without the context of the original brief, the client’s input, what the goal was or any other of the countless factors that influence the outcome of a design.

One of the most extreme examples of this was the reaction to the London 2012 Olympic Games identity. It generated a reaction so strong it became a heated discussion far outside of the design industry. People felt so violently opposed to it that a petition to redesign it was quickly set up and gathered tens of thousands of signatures (this was before petitioning everything became a default reaction).

A raft of proposed alternatives surfaced, all pretty appalling, but most importantly, they almost all missed a key objective; create an identity that could be owned by the nation, not just London.

Every depiction of the London Eye, Houses of Parliament or Thames woven into the Olympic Rings missed the point — Britain is tiny, it needed everyone to support the Olympics; not just the capital.

The logo’s form was so wildly unconventional and dynamic that it could be filled with images, patterns and colours in almost any combination and remain just as recognisable.

The shape assisted widespread ownership by sponsors and suppliers up and down the country; they could create their own unique version of it — despite possibly disliking it, they still wanted the prestige of being a supplier or partner to the Olympics.

It was edgy, unexpected and risky — it could appeal to a young audience which was critical

Instead of the usual soft shapes and pleasant but forgettable colours, the identity was all diagonal lines, sharp corners and an eye-popping palette. It was edgy, unexpected and risky — it could appeal to a young audience which was critical as increasing youth participation in sport was a huge part of the intended legacy of the games and its infrastructure.

Overall the approach taken to create the identity and the final result was something befitting of a nation responsible for producing some of the world’s greatest creative and maverick minds.

The London 2012 logo is also likely to be the only Olympic logo you can recall without seeing it, which is an incredibly hard thing to achieve.

If more design work is approached in this way and more risks are taken, perhaps more brands would avoid one of the worst but most common of all design outcomes — nice, but forgettable.

Photo by Simon Connellan on Unsplash

Open sign

COVID-19 response statement

As the situation surrounding the spread of C-19 (Coronavirus) is changing rapidly, we want to make sure we are supporting our staff, clients’ and suppliers’ health and wellbeing first and foremost.

We will also now be conducting all meetings remotely where possible or rescheduling them if this is not practical or if time allows.

We are a primarily digital business and can move to home-based working with minimal disruption until the advice about self-isolation and being in larger groups of people changes. We believe this is the most responsible course of action for us based on current advice.

We will also now be conducting all meetings remotely where possible or rescheduling them if this is not practical or if time allows.

If you have a mobile number already for the person you wish to contact, please use this as the primary number to speak to someone. You can also contact us via the usual means; email, Slack, Skype or Google Hangout.

The business continuity plan for our hosting services is ISO 22301 Business Continuity accredited and will ensure they remain uninterrupted. It includes isolation for staff that have roles that dictate on-site working (such as data centre engineers) and built-in redundancy; this negates the risk of transfer from offices to data centres or vice versa.

As always, if you have any concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

We wish you good health and a swift return to business as usual.

Nick Whyatt
MD, POP

Photo by Alex Holyoake on Unsplash

The Shard, London

POP wins Mitie PLC projects

POP has secured another blue-chip client already in 2020, Mitie PLC. The work includes planning, website design and development.

Headquartered in The Shard, Mitie employs around 50,000 people.

Headquartered in The Shard, Mitie is the UK’s leading facilities management and professional services company, employing around 50,000 people and serving clients such as the Bank Of England, Sky, Facebook and Eurostar. Services delivered range from security and healthcare to document management, assurance and risk management.

POP is now in its 12th year of business and has worked with clients of all sizes and sectors, from start-ups to some of the country’s most recognisable brands.

Photo by Valentin B. Kremer on Unsplash

Armstrong digital marketing win

POP wins Armstrong Account

POP has been successful in winning the Armstrong Ceiling Solutions pan-European digital marketing account.

The EMEA and Pacific Rim business has recently been acquired by Knauf in $330m sale, as Armstrong World Industries pursues an Americas-only strategy.

POP will be working alongside Armstrong to deliver digital marketing reporting tools as well as the creation and ongoing management of the company’s organic and paid digital marketing strategy and activity.

Armstrong has a 150-year history that has seen it grow into Europe’s leading manufacturer of mineral fibre ceiling systems; designing and making products specified in all environments from schools and workplaces to hotels and hospitals.

Brand purpose - The World Is Ours

From purpose to purchase

People want more from brands today; they want them to stand for something, they want them to have purpose. This isn’t a particularly new revelation, but it’s getting more and more important and research shows that brand purpose is more important to Generation Z and Millennials than it is to Generation X and Baby Boomers. Younger consumers want brands to roll up their sleeves and get involved.

…despite it being a polarising campaign and there being a very vocal backlash online, Nike reported a 31% increase in sales compared to the same period the previous year.

One of the most recent cases of a big brand taking a risk to back a cause was Nike’s Colin Kaepernick 30th anniversary Just Do It campaign. The company had to weigh the risk of alienating the NFL against the opportunity to engage with a young, socially conscious market at a potentially decisive moment. The gamble paid off – despite it being a polarising campaign and there being a very vocal backlash online, Nike reported a 31% increase in sales compared to the same period the previous year.

But what matters to consumers most what it comes to brand purpose? According to research by Accenture, the following:

  • 66% brand culture – delivering on promises
  • 66% transparency – sourcing materials, treating employees, etc
  • 65% treating employees well
  • 62% improving the environment
  • 62% having ethics or values and demonstrating them
  • 62% being passionate about what it does
  • 52% being bigger than just products or services, aligning with personal values
  • 50% standing up for issues they believe in
  • 50% supporting causes we have in common
  • 38% creates a sense of community with like-minded connections
  • 37% political stances close to my heart

There is, according to the same research, a difference in how important customers rate purpose depending on the category the brand is in i.e. Basic or utility products such as detergent, to a certain extent, fall back on more traditional differentiators such as price and quality – people appear less likely to want engagement from a bin liner.

So what does this mean in practice?

It means that to be more competitive, brands need to be more human and more transparent. They need to do what they say they will, but also find a calling that is bigger than just increasing sales. They need to engage with issues – even if an issue is divisive, taking a measured risk and giving voice to a cause with authenticity can be as commercially sound as it is ethically. This appears to be the path to creating an engaged community of loyal stakeholders, rather than a transient set of customers.

Photo by Charles on Unsplash

Sources:

  • Accenture Global Consumer Pulse Research 2018, [survey of 29,530 end-consumers from 35 countries]
  • Nike sales information via Eddison Trends
Aeroplane cabin

POP rebrands Orvec International

POP has been commissioned by Orvec International to work alongside the company to develop its new identity and produce websites for both Orvec and its medical sister brand Orvecare.

Orvec is a market leader in the design, supply and manufacture of woven and non-woven products to the airline, healthcare and hospitality sectors across the world and has manufacturing locations in the UK & China and distribution bases in Europe, the US, the Middle East and Asia.

The company’s products are supplied worldwide to clients such a TUI, Virgin Atlantic, Delta, United Airlines and Emirates.

Northcore Twiggy Baker

New Magento 2 store for Northcore

POP are currently redeveloping the e-commerce website for long-standing client and col-water surfing brand, Northcore Europe. The new website is a multi-storefront, multi-currency Adobe Magento 2 project and will be used for both retail and trade customers in the UK, mainland Europe and the US.

Adobe Magento 2 is the perfect fit for a large, highly-functional e-commerce website such as this

The website will integrate with Northcore’s stock management systems as well as third-party resellers such as Amazon and eBay. Adobe Magento 2 is the perfect fit for a large, highly-functional e-commerce website such as this and is the latest in a wave(!) of new Magento projects POP has been commissioned for as the end of support for Magento 1 in June 2020 draws closer.

Northcore Europe produces technical accessories and hardware for the surf, board riding and adventure sports communities, as well as working with the best athletes and engaging with progressive film making, music, art and photography. The brand has a team of pro surfers and has recently added world champion Twiggy Baker (pictured) to their ranks.

Check out Northcore’s existing website and learn more about our work with them here.

Two way sign

How to rebrand successfully

Making changes to your brand can be a risky business. Just look what happened when Coke attempted their image change in 1985, cue u-turn, and Royal Mail attempted to dress up in a sexier outfit and call themselves ‘Consignia’? – The result was that the attempt was *ahem* consigned to the cutting room floor. So why did these rebrands fail and what do you have to do to ensure that your rebrand is a success? 

Do your research and create a rationale for your rebrand

One of the most important things you have to do when deciding whether or not to rebrand is to do your research. A re-brand should not be a kneejerk reaction to a competitor’s move (i.e. Coke’s 1985 disaster when they panicked about the Pepsi challenge) or an isolated internal decision that has not sought the opinion of all stakeholder groups (Royal Mail – Consignia case).

Don’t forget your existing customers. Who are they? What do they like about you? What do they feel you are doing well? What do they think you need to improve upon?

You must look at the marketplace you are operating in, where are you in terms of the competition? Where do you want to recruit new customers, how many are there, who are they, what do they want? Why do they want your product and service, what can you offer that others don’t? Really get to know them and what makes them tick.

Don’t forget your existing customers. Who are they? What do they like about you? What do they feel you are doing well? What do they think you need to improve upon?

If you’re introducing a new product or service what is the market potential? Are you being realistic about what it can do for your company as a whole

This will ensure that you are looking outwards and will help you to build a true picture of what you look like now and what you want to achieve, and may well throw up some surprises!

Shape your new brand

Once you have carried out your research and really understand the problems a rebrand needs to solve you can begin to shape what your new brand should do for and say to customers.

  • What characteristics or qualities do we want people to think of when they hear our name?
  • How do we want our customer to feel when they use our product/service?
  • Do our products/services live up to these ideas? If not, make changes at product/service level before you do anything else.
  • What do you want to retain from your existing brand-where is the real ‘heritage’, and where do we need to build new values and promises.

Develop your internal ambassadors

Do not even attempt to roll out a new brand without first training every staff member in the new brand. Why are you carrying out the rebrand? What does it mean? What changes do you want your staff members to make to ensure that their behaviour is ‘on brand’? If necessary incentivise these behaviours to make sure there is a longevity beyond the first 3 months after its launch. Get key influencers involved in the rebrand process- i.e. looking at ways they can make the roles that they carry out ‘on brand’. Get them bought into the new brand and involved in the process.

Be relentless in communicating your rebranding efforts

Once you launch your new brand be bold and relentless in its communication. Don’t water it down or ‘forget’ to use it. Make sure that all your internal and external touch points have been considered and changed to fit in with the new brand.

Expect a ‘response’ and be brave!

Hopefully, your new brand will be well received and will quickly help you to achieve your business goals. However, you will always have detractors who ’ liked it better before’ or to whom ‘it doesn’t make sense’. People fear change but be brave! You have done your research and you have rational, business-led decisions for conducting the rebrand. Give it time and let your bottom line do the talking!

Check out these examples of our branding and rebranding work.

Photo by Pablo García Saldaña on Unsplash

Wrendale Designs Country Kitchen range

POP working with Wrendale Designs

POP has been commissioned to design and build the new international e-commerce website for Wrendale Designs, the company founded by artist Hannah Dale. Founded in 2012, Wrendale Designs has enjoyed meteoric growth, created a range by Royal Worcester and has most recently won a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade.

The website will be created using Adobe Magento 2 and will be integrated with Wrendale Design’s custom stock management system

The project to create the new Wrendale Designs website includes the creation of 6 different storefronts: retail and trade storefronts for 3 separate international regions and is both multi-currency and multi-lingual. The website will be created using Adobe Magento 2 and will be integrated with Wrendale Design’s custom stock management system, itself managing multiple stock locations in Europe and the US.

POP will also be helping to rationalise and recategorise the product range that runs to approximately 5,000 SKUs to create the most user-friendly way of navigating such a large range and give a great user experience to retail customers buying small numbers of items, trade customers buying and bulk and for the content management team themselves.

Eco friendly web hosting - For The World

100% carbon neutral web hosting

Though we’re a small business, we still have a responsibility to reduce our environmental impact where possible. One area we can do this is by migrating to a more eco-friendly web hosting set-up, so we are now using 100% carbon neutral data centres to host our websites and email for both ourselves and our clients.

Data centres worldwide are expected to generate 533 million tonnes of CO2 by 2020

At first glance, this might seem a small change, however, according to the Carbon Trust, data centres worldwide are expected to generate 533 million tonnes of CO2 by 2020, that’s roughly the equivalent of airline industry! So their impact is huge. You can rest assured though, if you host with POP, you won’t be contributing to this figure.

Learn more about what we do and who we do it for

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Number 1

Three ‘R’s of hiring a creative agency

Annabel Gilbert, Partner from Impact Marketing, guides you through selecting a creative agency in the first of our series of guest blog posts from the world of design and marketing.

If you’re ready to embark on a new design project whether it’s new packaging, a logo re-design or a complete brand overhaul, you will be looking for a creative agency and there are a plethora of agencies out there to choose from, but which one? Here are 3 tips to help you find ‘the one’:

Research

Whether you have been contacted directly by an agency touting for your business, or you’re starting the process of looking for one yourself, do your research! Take a look at their website and client list and check you like what you see. Ask them if they have done work for clients in your industry or aimed at your target market. If they have already come up with design you like for other clients, the chances are they will for you too.

Recommendation

If a creative agency has received testimonials from happy clients you’ll find them on their website, on Twitter or Facebook. It’s also worth contacting their clients directly to find out if they were happy with the work they received. Talk to business associates and friends about agencies they have worked with and ask for their honest opinions, you’ll get some fantastic information that will help you narrow down your shortlist.

Rapport

Finally, go with your instinct on this – if you find them easy to talk to, enthusiastic and receptive to your questions, it’s a pretty good start. Any successful creative outcome is reliant on good communication between both parties, so before you make your decision ask for what the marketing world call a ‘chemistry meeting’, that’s an informal chat to the rest of us!

Any successful creative outcome is reliant on good communication between both parties

Use it as an opportunity to ask questions about how they work and be upfront about what you’re looking for in return; mention your timescales, budget, goals etc and use it as an opportunity to see if you can work with them. It goes without saying that you should like what you hear, but even if they seem to be saying all the right things, if it feels awkward or uncomfortable at this stage it doesn’t bode well for the future.

If you’ve found the right creative agency for your business the design process should be an enjoyable one, have confidence in your decision and get started!

Check out our projects

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

Feet and arrows

Which CMS to choose and why

If you are commissioning a new website, you will need to choose which CMS (Content Management System) to use and are likely to be recommended one by your developer. It is worth discussing the options at this stage thouroughly though; the CMS will be a very significant part of the infrastructure of your website, so making the wrong choice can be costly.

Part of what we do at POP is maintaining websites that we didn’t build originally or making them work more effectively, so naturally, we have seen clients with systems that are a bad fit for what they are trying to achieve.

Here are some considerations when choosing your Content Management System:

Who else supports the Content Management System?

Some systems are high-quality, widely-supported and free (eg. Expression Engine, Magento and WordPress) or carry a licence or subscription fee (Craft, Shopify). However, some are less-well supported by the developer community and/or are lower-quality (CS Cart, Perch, Open Cart, Drupal, Joomla!).

A low level of support can mean difficulties expanding the functionality of your website in the future, or it being expensive to do so.

A low level of support can mean difficulties expanding the functionality of your website in the future, or it being expensive to do so. It could also mean a frustrating content management experience and limited options if you want to part ways with your current developer.

How individual are your needs really?

Are your needs really that individual? If so, by all means invest heavily in the bespoke system that your developer is going to create around your specific needs, but also realise that you may now be tied to that developer through thick and thin and the ongoing support costs may also be significant.

Will the CMS still be a good choice in a year or two?

Some of the entry-level systems such as Squarespace and Shopify can be a great way to get online or start selling quickly and cheaply, but are you able to scale your website up alongside the demands of your business? Do you have the flexibility to configure the architecture of your website for SEO? They may be a great first step, but will restrictions make them a false economy?

Conclusion

Before committing to CMS, ask yourself how long you expect the website to last and what you might want to do during that period in terms of expanding its functionality.

If you are having a bespoke system built (the actual Content Management System, not just design and templates), is the cost necessary and will it be technically capable of keeping pace with your requirements?

Also, consider how long you expect the relationship with your developer to last once the honeymoon period and launch is over – do you have the flexibility to change if you want to? Will another developer or agency be able to support the website?

Head over to our projects for examples of CMS-driven websites.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash